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Tennessee needs statewide mask mandate, federal report says

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 18:11:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gov. Bill Lee needs to issue a statewide order requiring the use of face coverings in public, a new report from federal health officials suggests.

The recommendation was contained in a report prepared by members of a COVID-19 Response Assistance Field Team earlier this month after a visit to Knox County. The team is part of the Public Health Services unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The message should be that it is important to protect the economy AND the health of our citizens (not either/or)," the CRAFT report said.

"A statewide mask mandate is needed."

The CRAFT team suggested that a visit or a call could be arranged between Gov. Bill Lee and a member of the White House COVID-19 task force to persuade him to issue such an order.

The report also recommended that Tennessee should "identify trusted and influential celebrities, such as Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Chris Blue and University of Tennessee sports coaches to speak out with messages encouraging mask-wearing."

Lee just recently announced a series of public service announcements to convey that message. However, he says a "statewide, one-size-fits-all mandates do not equate to mask-wearing. I believe the most effective way to get people to wear masks is to have buy-in. That starts at the local level."

In addition, the CRAFT report said that Tennessee must decrease the turnaround time for COVID-19 testing. Those turnaround times had risen from four days to as long as eight days.